The South Coast Air Quality Management District board voted Friday to grant City Hall $500,000 for its bike-share program, helping to expand it once it is formally launched at the end of 2013, city officials said.

Of the roughly 35 bike-sharing stations planned, the grant is expected to fund the construction of five outside Santa Monica in adjacent Westside cities.

City Hall has received over $2.8 million to build the stations and purchase approximately 350 bikes. City Hall has been working with local businesses and community members to identify desirable locations, and has already found several.

Bike sharing, the short-term rental of bicycles on a one-way or round-trip basis, has been popular in Europe and other countries for many years, and has recently gained popularity in cities throughout the U.S. including Washington, D.C., Seattle, Minneapolis and Denver. In California, cities including Anaheim and Los Angeles are in various stages of opening a bike-share system, officials said.

“Both residents and the business community have encouraged the city to implement a bike-sharing system as soon as possible as a way to encourage more people to ride in Santa Monica,” said David Martin, director of Planning and Community Development for City Hall. “We expect this program to complement the future Exposition Light Rail, allowing anyone to bicycle to and from the Santa Monica stations and provide the essential first and last mile link.”

Bicycling is becoming increasingly popular in Santa Monica, and the share of people biking to work has increased about 29 percent between 2007 and 2010, according to City Hall.

“This isn’t just a Santa Monica victory. By expanding the stations to the Westside, we’re creating a system that will allow cross-city transportation in a sustainable, visionary way,” said Mary Luevano, policy and legislative affairs director at Global Green, a nonprofit based in Santa Monica that has been working with City Hall on the bike-share program.

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